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Do ethics and sampling work well for Brands?

Author: Catherine Titherington, Brands Manager at Eagle Eye Solutions.

Did you know that 92% of Millennial consumers are more likely to buy products from ethical companies? Or that 82% of those consumers believe ethical brands outperform similar companies that lack a commitment to ethical principles? (Aflac survey (PDF)) These consumers are also digital forward with 85 percent of millennials owning a smartphone. The average millennial checks his or her phone a whopping 157 times per day—five times the rate of older users. And 4 in 10 millennials say they engage with their smartphones more than they do actual humans.  So why are paper based coupons in grocery still used at the heart of any promotional sampling campaign to millennials, when the technology exists to move to digital?

With 2021 fast approaching sometimes it is good to reflect on initiatives that have embraced ethics and Brands that have benefited from them.   A record 400,000 people worldwide signed up to the Veganuary movement in 2020 by embracing plant-based diets, the campaign organisers have revealed. As more consumers drop all meat and dairy products from their diet for health or ethical reasons, the charity behind the annual event said the record figures and strong global support had made 2020’s Veganuary the most popular since its launch in 2014. Many more people are thought to have taken part in the event without signing the official on-line pledge.
 
Brands like Meatless Farm are taking the lead on promoting their products linking the conversion of just one meat free meal a week to the fact that it is the equivalent of taking 16 million cars off the road. Alongside this statistic it is estimated that over 350 billion coupons are printed each year and almost 99% of these are never redeemed. The most likely reasons for this are unwanted, lost or forgotten scraps of paper. It is a huge shame to understand that these savings were not utilised, however the advancements in digital redemption would support reducing these statistics significantly it just requires the grocers to embrace the technology like the hospitality sector do where over 90% of promotional coupons are digital and redemption rates average 25%. 
 
Digital coupons are still a challenge for the larger grocers as single use attributable coupons mean configuring POS equipment to be accepting of these codes, however, the benefits from an ethical and financial perspective are enormous. Firstly, there is the potential for substantial reduction in paper-based coupons with dangerous potential inclusion of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) which can be found in shop, till, cashpoint or similar types of coupons and receipts. Secondly, the real-time redemption, fraud detection, ease-of-access and potential audience reach are some of the main ways all those involved, including the consumer, will benefit. However, the key benefit is that “digital” opens the door for Brands to invest in the use of more innovative use of social platforms and AI technology that can embrace these platforms making coupon sampling more accessible, environmentally friendly and have a smoother and shorter customer journey for the consumer.

Britain’s supermarkets are reporting a surge in sales of vegan food and drink, which they expect to continue throughout the year. They are tapping into not only the burgeoning vegan market but also the UK’s estimated 22 million “flexitarians”, who enjoy meat but want to reduce their meat consumption.

Last year, 75,000 people signed up for Go Sober for October, raising £5m for Macmillan Cancer Support while recalibrating their relationship with alcohol.

Not to be confused with Stoptober (the smoking cessation campaign from Public Health England), Go Sober for October provides a second annual chance to join a mass, month-long break from booze and the potential move to Low and No alcohol brands which also link into the ethical and health stand point many millennials are taking. If you failed at Dry January (being snowed in calls for nips of brandy, right?), you still get another shot at giving up for a bit without being blurry eyed with suspicion and disapproval. With one in five adults drinking over the recommended upper limit of 14 units a week, according to a YouGov poll this year, livers up and down the land must be breathing sighs of relief.

Common sense dictates that the ideal plan would be to do Go Sober for October and then introduce weekly booze-free days when you are back off the wagon. Helpfully, it looks as if the former could well pave the way for the latter. A study in 2015 from Sussex University enlisted more than 800 participants in Dry January, and found that afterwards, their ability to confidently say no to alcoholic drinks improved, while their consumption of alcohol went down, whether they had succeeded in quitting for the entire month or not. Many drinks Brands Eagle Eye works with are also exploring the Low or No alcohol Brands; Guinness O%, Kopparberg alcohol free, Becks Blue and many more see sampling as an important part of getting consumers to switch and try. With the demise of Face 2 Face sampling, digital sampling for low and no has been fully embraced in the hospitality and On Trade sector but again not in grocery yet this is something Brands are crying out to do. Brand campaigns are broadcast through a combination of traditional and new mass media including TV, press, radio and online adverts, public relations messaging, and multiple social channels all of which the opportunity to include a digital call to action or activation that can be measured.

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